Test stars given Shield hit with pink ball

Michael Clarke and his teammates will be assured of at least one pink ball tune-up before facing New Zealand in a day-night Test.

Cricket Australia (CA) is yet to finalise plans for an inaugural day-night Test, but remain confident it will go ahead during this summer’s three-match series against New Zealand.

Both cricket boards remain supportive, with Adelaide Oval considered the venue most likely to host the innovative fixture.

Details are expected to be ironed out when officials meet on the sidelines of the International Cricket Council’s annual conference in Barbados on June 22-26.

NZ players’ association boss Heath Mills suggested a week ago that top players in his homeland were “overwhelmingly not supportive of playing day-night Test cricket”.

Either side of the Tasman, match practice is a concern.

“A number of players in the Australian Test squad have had limited or no experience in match conditions with the pink balls so we’d obviously be keen to get their feedback whenever they have the opportunity to take part in a proper trial,” Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) chief Alistair Nicholson said.

“Ultimately the decision on the format of the series rests with the respective cricket boards. Our focus is on player safety and ensuring that their views are given appropriate consideration in any decision.”

CA conducted two rounds of pink-ball trials last year, but few Test players were involved.

Mitchell Starc, Shaun Marsh, Adam Voges and Fawad Ahmed were the only members of the current Test squad to play the most recent trial round in November.

It’s understood CA will schedule a pink-ball round early in the 2015-16 Shield season, ensuring its brightest stars have a hit under lights.

The Blackcaps have also been assured a tour game using the pink pill.

The Kookaburras in the respective first-class fixtures will be the same design as those on offer in the mooted Test.

The ball has been the concept’s major stumbling block, but the addition of a darker seam last year was a promising development.

“We’ve canvassed the views of our players … while there was a range of opinions, the overall view following the second round of trials was that the quality of the balls had improved,” Nicholson said.

The ICC gave the green light to day-night Tests in 2012, leaving it up to nations to mutually agree on playing conditions.

The governing body’s cricket committee, including Mark Taylor and Darren Lehmann, met in Mumbai earlier this week and made a strong recommendation that members embrace the concept.

CA is keeping tightlipped about ongoing discussions, but a spokesperson noted “we are serious about pushing ahead with the concept”.

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